Strait’s Sling Cocktail

By Robert Hess

Of course almost everybody has heard of the famous Singapore Sling, invented at Raffles Hotel in Singapore. What they might not know, is that sometime during the 1930s they stopped serving the drink, and when they decided to start making it again, they discovered they no longer had the original recipe. As the rumor goes, an old customer had a recipe written on the back of an old napkin, and they used that to bring back the drink. There are some who say that this isn't the same recipe. Instead, they feel that the "original" Singapore Sling recipe is found here, in the recipe for the Straits Sling. We may never know.

Recipe

Ingredients

2 oz Gin

1 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz cherry brandy

1/2 oz Benedictine

dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters

dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Instructions

Shake with ice.

Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.

Comments
Alchemistgeorge 26 May 2009
5:07 am

Oops! Typo!

That is “Straits”, not “straights”. From Dict.com: straits. (used with a singular verb) a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water.

From wikipedia: The Singapore Strait (or Straits of Singapore) is a 105-kilometer long, 16-kilometer wide strait between the Strait of Malacca in the west and the South China Sea in the east. Singapore is on the north of the channel and the Riau Islands are on the south.

The local paper in Singapore is The Straits Times.

If you’ve ever tried making the Singapore Sling from the recipe found on the Raffles Hotel Website, you know its not a very good drink.  Dale Degroff has a much better recipe - same ingredients, slightly different proportions. There is an excellent write up of the Straits Sling in ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails” by Ted Haigh.

Robert Hess 26 May 2009
6:07 am

Duho! Don’t you hate it when that happens… :->

It’s correctly titled on my website (http://www.drinkboy.com/Cocktails/Recipe.aspx?itemid=155), but somehow I just got things transposed when writing up the recipe to use for filming this episode… Thanks for catching it so quick!

I actually like the recipe which is supposed to be used at Raffles, which I provide on my site here: http://www.drinkboy.com/Cocktails/Recipe.aspx?itemid=151,
although I’ve also had this drink “at” Raffles, and can report that it is rather disappointing. I’ll have to check out Dales recipe however, I assume this is in his most recent book “The Essential Cocktail”?

Alchemistgeorge 26 May 2009
6:34 am

I first had the drink at Raffles in the late 80s when Raffles was the classiest dump in South East Asia, and I loved it both the Long Bar and the drink.  I can’t say the same for the post renovation Raffles - which is an incredible building, much cleaner, but without much character.

What I *should have said* about the ‘official’ recipe is that in comparison to most of what passes for a Singapore Sling the classic is great.  After starting to take cocktails more seriously, I threw a party where first we served the Strait’s Sling, then the classic, then Dale’s recipe. I polled my 10 guests and everyone preferred Dale’s version to the ‘classic’ - in comparison the classic was a bit too sweet, a bit too heavy. So I’d say the classic is a A- and Dale’s is a A or A+ [Singapore Slings are such a crowd pleaser]. 

My cocktail library is in a couple boxes at the moment, I think the recipe is from ‘The Craft of the Cocktail’ which I value especially for the section on garnishes, my weakest point.  I haven’t got a copy of Essential Cocktail yet.

mdoudoroff 26 May 2009
7:25 am

I note that you’re sidestepping the idea of kirsch as the “dry cherry brandy” called for in this drink. Care to comment?

Robert Hess 26 May 2009
7:32 am

I’m using Cherry Heering here instead of a dry cherry brandy primarily because the “dry cherry brandies” which were available at the time weren’t very good.

Clear Creek makes an excellent cherry brandy… but I couldn’t find any in time for filming.

mdoudoroff 26 May 2009
10:19 am

Well, I certainly advocate that anyone interested in this drink at least try it out with kirsch instead of Heering (same 1/2 oz measure). The results will be drastically different. I’m not laying claim that it’s “more correct” with kirsch, although the Ted Haigh article referenced above argues so and may be the most definitive statement we have so far on the topic. I do, however, feel it’s worthwhile.

One word of warning: kirsch (a.k.a. Kirschwasser) is a surprisingly variable spirit. Some kirsch on the American market is overwhelmingly woody and, in my experience, that can utterly wreck the Straits Sling. The contemporary kirsch I have found to be a reliable benchmark is Trimbach, a French producer of an array of eau de vies which Diageo Wines imports (last I checked).

Garretto 26 May 2009
11:23 am

This sounds very good! I would think that this not quite a tropical drink, as is the Singapore Sling. The pineapple juice in the Singapore renders it tropical to my taste.
Pineapple juice can be overbearing, and has been in my experience ordering tropical drinks at bars. How disappointed I was in the Mai Tai’s at “Don The Beachcombers”  at the Royal Kona Hotel——I guess Don’s recipe called for pineapple juice (vs Trader Vic’s) and in the hands of the bartender there, the juice drowned even the orgeat.
I checked out the DrinkBoy version of the Singapore and noticed it has twice the pineapple juice and half the Benedictine than the recipe I acquired from Chris McMillian.
Degroff’s is basically the same as Robert’s recipe, though it calls for 1 ounce less pineapple juice. For a less sweet Singapore, up the Benedictine a 1/4 oz and reduce the pineapple juice to 2 oz—- see Chris’ video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABl4syZQih0
Anyway, this Straits Sling looks great—-a good amount of Benedictine with the Heering, lemon and Gin and bitters, it’s gotta be good.—Thanks, Robert

Joe 26 Jun 2009
3:55 pm

Hello Robert,
I tried this drink about a week ago using Plymouth, which is my favorite all around gin, and was not overly impressed.
I didn’t want to give up on it so easily though so I made it a second time using Martin Miller’s gin. A home run!
I personally find that the citrus undertones in the Miller’s gin blends perfectly with the lemon juice, cherry brandy and orange bitters, while the Benedictine and Angostura Bitters still adds the extra depth to the profile.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Thanks for all of the great recipes…......my liver hates you.
Joe

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